Recruiting 2005: Gator Wants And Needs

<i><b>Part III in a series about Florida's recruiting wants and needs for the Class of 2005.</b></i> <p> The offensive line is a great need for this recruiting season this year. The Gators lose five from the 2004 roster and next season, there will be five more seniors. The state of Florida doesn't always produce quality and quantity in the same year when it comes to offensive linemen, and this year is not an exception.

With this is mind, it is imperative that the Gators sign one or two players outside of the state to ensure a quality haul of offensive linemen.

On Scholarship (11): Jonathan Marvin (Sr.), Mike Degory (Sr.), Lance Butler (Sr.), Randy Hand (Sr.), Tavares Washington (Sr.), Steven Rissler (Jr.), Drew Miller (So.), Phil Trautwein (So.), Carlton Medder (So), Jason Watkins (Fr.), Jim Tartt (Fr)

Roster Analysis: The Gators should have another very talented starting five offensive linemen next year. Degory, Hand, Butler, and Rissler are all returning starters. Miller and Trautwein showed promise early and played as true freshmen and Washington was the projected left tackle before the season started. Medder, Watkins, and Tartt were all promising high school recruits and they should contribute in 2005 as well. The problem will be depth after the 2005 season because the Gators could lose as many as five starters to graduation. The staff would love to have some young guys come in and produce early.

Options (Gators want 5-7): With five on their way out after this next season, the Gators would love to sign at least five this year, perhaps more. There is no need to make any reaches as far as bringing in talented players, but the need for depth is critical. The previous staff only signed eight high school offensive linemen in the last three years and seven of those are still on the roster. This is a position that really needs to bring in the numbers.

The addition of two early enrollees will certainly help this class. Eddie Haupt of Merritt Island comes in after a superb senior campaign and after impressing the Gator coaches at the summer camp. Haupt will enroll at Florida in January and be able to compete in spring drills with all of the returning players, getting a head start on learning the system from the other new recruits. He was told by the staff that he would probably play center or tackle for the Gators. Haupt is very heady and extremely quick for his size. He also loves bashing heads on the gridiron.

Ronnie Wilson is a mauler who comes from Pompano Beach Ely. He also attended the summer camp at UF, impressing all the Gator coaches with his desire to smash people into the ground and dominate at his position. Because he will be joining Haupt as an early enrollee, he will have a chance to make a move on the depth chart in the spring.

South Miami HS tackle Simon Codrington will be one the Gators would surely love to land. The 6-7, 260-pound prototype tackle has been on the Gators radar from the very beginning. The addition of Doc Holliday to the Gator's staff should certainly help in his recruitment. Landing the services of Codrington would certainly go a long way in securing a south Florida recruiting pipeline that is so needed.

Matt Hardrick of Orlando's Edgewater HS has always been a solid lean to Florida State. The 6-4, 340-pound goliath has been a mainstay on the recruiting scene since early in his junior season. While not an impossible task, the Gator coaching staff has a long way to go to make this one happen. Edgewater sent two players last year to the Noles and has two this year looking that direction. Also on the Gator's radar from Edgewater is tackle prospect Quentin Brown. Like Hardrick, the 6-6, 260-pound Brown has also been of great interest to the Gators for some time now, but his play in Edgewater's run to the state championship game increased his visibility to the staff.

Chris Scott is another huge offensive lineman the Gators covet. He's from Lovejoy High School in Georgia, and though he has a visit scheduled for the Gators, it's known that he favors SEC rivals Tennessee and LSU. It is possible that Nick Saban's departure to the NFL will open the door wider for the Gators. Scott is 6-4, 315, and a talent who would be expected to earn early playing time.

North Carolina's Cutis Crouch is a 6-6, 316-pounder from Fayetteville (NC) EE Smith who is suddenly rising on the Gator recruiting board. Crouch's new interest in the Gators began when the Gators added Coach Doc Holliday to the staff from NC State. Crouch has set an official visit to Gainesville, although he really hasn't indicated a favorite school as of yet.

Another recent addition to the offensive line board is Calvin Wilson, a 6-5, 320-pounder from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Wilson played both sides of the ball in high school. He's got good strength and mobility to go with his size. He's due in Gainesville the final recruiting weekend before signing day. At every visit he's taken thus far, Wilson seems to have had a great visit and a good time.

Chris Barney, the 6-6, 320-pounder out of Miami Northwestern has the interest of the Florida staff. There is a lot of ground to be made up with this big guy, but perhaps Coach Meyer and his new South Florida specialist, Coach Holliday, will be able to get him interested in being a Gator. When rumors popped up that he was being slow-played by the hometown Miami Hurricanes, suddenly three UM coaches showed up at his home.

Duke Robinson is set to visit Florida January 14. He's a 6-5, 325-pounder who's been worked hard by Coach Mike Locksley. Robinson's early favorites have been Georgia and Oklahoma, but the fact that he has set a visit to UF means the Gators have a shot. Their chances may improve once Robinson gets here and sees the potential for the depth chart opening up quickly.

With the need so high right now at the offensive line position, it may be necessary for the Gators to really look a little deeper at the Florida talent pool. Offensive linemen Jeff Griffin (6-3, 270) of Jacksonville's Bartram Trail, Antuan Lewis (6-4, 319) of Tampa Jefferson High, and Sabree Thomas (6-5, 270) of Jacksonville Ed White are all options in state that could add depth to the offensive line.

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